The World

Bishop Shevchuk reaffirms religious unity in Ukraine in the war

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has confirmed from Kiev, "ecumenical and interreligious unity in Ukraine as never existed in the past," as Omnes reported in April. "In the mass graves we are all of us," he added, in a act organized by ACN International and Spain, in which he appealed to "resist this unjust ideological invasion".

Francisco Otamendi-May 7, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
SHEVCHUK ukraine

Photo ©CNS screenshot/Ukrainian Catholic Church)

Major Archbishop Shevchuk revealed today that he is "at the top of a list of Russians for delete me"and that it is a "priority target". He said this over the Internet in a connection that he considered "a miracle" as things stand in the Ukrainian capital.

In the same speech, in which he was accompanied by the bursar of the archdiocese, Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk accused the Russian leadership of spreading that "Ukraine is an ideology, not a nation. The invasion is a colonial war. Russia considers Ukraine as a former colony to be reconquered", and Ukrainians as elements to be "eliminated, re-educated in concentration camps, or expelled", in a conflict that "can be compared to World War II", he said.

"Church leaders" are in this situation, in that of people to be "eliminated," he remonstrated. "We have to resist this high-intensity unjust ideological invasion, because "as Putin pointed out, the intention was to wipe out Ukraine in three days." "And in two months" it has destroyed "50 percent of the national economy. People call the Church and ask to eat, but resources are running out," he added. In this line, he reiterated what Javier Menéndez Ros, director of ACN Spain, had pointed out at the beginning of the briefing: "The disaster in Ukraine is not over".

Monsignor Shevchuk reiterated in his words that "religious leaders are united", and that in this line, the Council of Churches is playing a very relevant role, in particular with regard to "humanitarian aid, because people are suffering".

Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Disasterium for the Service of Integral Human Development in the Holy See, had stated on Ukrainian territory: "During my visit to the village of Beregove, in western Ukraine, I was very impressed to see Catholics of the Latin rite, Greek Catholics, Protestants, Reformed, Jews, coming together to share the work of the refugee emergency. A huge emergency that can only be addressed together. 'There are no distinctions, we are all the Good Samaritan called to help others now,' said one pastor during this very frank and fraternal dialogue. It comforted me, it is truly the sign of a living Church."

Times of repression

Omnes magazine warned in its April issue about "a risk that seems real. If it [the Russian invasion] succeeds, the Catholic Church in Ukraine could disappear. Monsignor Shevchuk said in an interview with a Ukrainian radio station. Apparently we are on the list as well as our brothers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,' said the great archbishop, referring to a possible list of organizations to be banned by Russian President Vladimir Putin".

"We know from history," Omnes collected, "that every time Russia conquered our country, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was systematically destroyed," Archbishop Shevchuk added, "God forbid that this should be repeated now." Indeed, in 1946, Stalin forced it to merge with the Orthodox Church, from which it had separated at the end of the 16th century. Many bishops and clergy who opposed the integration were arrested and died in Siberia. It was only in 1989 that the state repression of the Greek Catholic Church ended and it came out of hiding again."

Monsignor Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who thanked the solidarity aid sent by Spain, asked in today's act: "Pray for Ukraine". He encouraged to maintain hope with the Easter greeting of the 'Risen Christ', and affirmed: "We value very much the effort of Pope Francis, to stop this unjust war. He is a very great moral authority, who has offered to travel to Moscow in a mediation task, despite his severe knee pain." "But diplomacy has not been able to stop this unjust war."

New ACN campaign

In Ukraine, a country of about 44 million inhabitants, 60 percent of the population is Orthodox. In addition, about 8.8 percent belong to the Greek-Catholic Church, which together with the 0.8 percent of the Latins makes up almost 10 percent of the Ukrainian population. There are about 4.4 million people, including 4,879 priests and religious, and 1,350 nuns.

In the presentation of a new aid campaign, 'Church in Ukraine, refuge of hope', Javier Menéndez Ros stressed that ACN has been helping Ukraine since 1953 in a preferential way", long before this war, and that "currently, in Ukraine there are more than 7 million people who have fled their homes to other parts of the country in search of a safe place".

"Every parish, convent and seminary has become a reception center. ACN is now promising to send, in a new package, aid of about 2 million euros to assist the Ukrainian Church in its charitable and pastoral mission, especially in the western region of the country where internally displaced persons are being welcomed."

Both Menéndez Ros and Marco Mencaglia, project coordinator for Europe of ACN International, explained that after "sending an initial emergency aid to the Church in that country, amounting to one million euros, to ensure that the thousands of priests and nuns who today live in Ukraine have the necessary means to stay with their people, in parishes, in homes for children, mothers and elderly people, with the refugees", it is now a matter of addressing a second phase. This aid to specific projects of the Church in western Ukraine, "is not only material, but also of spiritual care, of comfort, to displaced families", especially women and children, since men of military age are fighting.

More than 12 million displaced persons

In addition to the seven million internally displaced persons, there are also 5 million externally displaced persons, refugees who have fled the country in a veritable "refugee crisis". exodusThe Archbishop of Kiev, who said he was "proud" of the bishops, priests, religious men and women who have remained in the country to care for the suffering people, stressed that more than 12 million Ukrainians have had to flee and move, inside and outside the country.

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.
Banner advertising
Banner advertising